SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PALESTINE
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE EIGHTH MEETING (PUBLIC)
Held at the Y.M.C.A Building, Jerusalem,
Tuesday, 17 June 1947, at 4.00 p.m.
Mr. Garcia Granados
Mr. Abdur Rahman
Mr. Garcia Salazar
Assistant Secretary General
Mr. Garcia Robles
The CHAIRMAN called the first public meeting in Palestine to order at 4.20 p.m.
Reception of factual information relating to conditions in Palestine from the representatives of the Jewish Agency for Pa1estine.
The CHAIRMAN invited Mr. M. SHERTOK and Mr. D. HOROWITZ, representatives of the Jewish Agency to take seats at the table and submit observations on the Survey of Palestine and other publications received by the Committee from the Government of Palestine.
Mr. SHERTOK (Jewish Agency) declared he would make a factual introduction to the subject under inquiry from the standpoint of the Jewish Agency.
After a few words of welcome to the Committee, Mr. SHERTOK opened his statement with a brief reference to the map of Palestine stressing the considerable variety of geography and climate. He pointed out that Palestine had never been so small a country as it was today. Before the first World War, Palestine extended on both sides of the Jordan, and a little to the north of its present northern boundary in the east and the west. Moreover, the eastern and greater part of Palestine had been detached, and was now a separate country, the Arab kingdom of Trans-Jordan.
Mr. SHERTOK next described the five distinct geographical zones of Palestine, giving for each zone the number of Jewish agricultural settlements. He said that the Negeb, which comprised forty per cent of the country’s area, was today mostly Arab populated and arable. The northern section of the Negeb contained good soil which could be turned into an area of very extensive agricultural development. In this zone there were only seventeen Jewish settlements, mostly established within the last couple of years.
Officially, however, the country had a different system of zones, namely, by reference to whether and to what extent Jews were free or not free to acquire land. In 63 percent of the country’s area the Jews were completely prohibited from buying land. In 32 percent every transaction between Jew and non-Jew required the special permission of the Government. In only 5 percent of Palestine were the Jews free to buy land.
The prohibition was in inverse ratio to Jewish landholdings. Where they had bought a large proportion of the land they could buy the remainder; where they had bought very little, they were completely prohibited from buying anything.
Mr. SHERTOK stressed that Jewish agricultural settlements had not resulted in the creation of a class of landless Arabs. Where land had been purchased from absentee landlords, Arab tenants, when they had to be removed, were in every case resettled elsewhere. Not a single Arab village had disappeared from the map of Palestine. It was not easy to find an instance in the history of colonization where a large scale settlement scheme had been conducted with so much respect for the interests of the existing population.
Palestine owed its existence as a distinct country to the fact that it was the birth-place of the Jewish people and because, in Palestine, the Jewish people had been able to make their contribution to the cultural and spiritual treasury of mankind.
In every century and in every generation the Jews had attempted to return to Palestine. Despite expulsions and prohibitions that Jews had striven very hard to maintain their hold of Palestine. The present phase of Jewish resettlement in Palestine, which had begun in 1881, was but a link in the chain of Jewish attempts to return. The Jews, driven by suffering and peril to seek refuge elsewhere, had been drawn to Palestine because this was the only country where they could hope to rebuild their lives on secure foundations and become a nation again.
Mr. SHERTOK then described the successive waves of immigration which brought Jews to Palestine after the 1870’s.
As a result of the first World War, Palestine had changed hands. The British Government issued the Balfour Declaration, and the Mandate had been approved on that basis.
Jewish immigration now became the dominant feature of the country’s life and the prime agent of its progress. A very large number of Jews came to Palestine and this large immigration, far from carrying any economic dislocation had caused a marked shortage of 1abour, due to the demand for food and services that the immigrants made.
In 1939, with the issue of the White Paper, British policy had turned a complete somersault. Jewish immigration had been severely limited and many tens of thousands of Jews who might otherwise have been saved by escaping to Palestine in time had been trapped in Europe and doomed. In a different setting the same story now went on. Only 1500 were permitted to enter Palestine per month but many more were trying to escape from the D.P. camps in Europe.
The process of Jewish immigration taken as a whole had been a mass return numerically as well as geographically. Fifty-two countries claimed immigrants as coming from them.
One notable feature of Jewish immigration in the last debacle had been the bringing over of children and adolescents who received education and t raining in agricultural settlements or in special institutions. The Jewish Agency had brought aver nearly 18,000 children.
As a national movement, the Jewish Agency was against Jews assimilating with the nations of the world and losing their distinct identity. In Palestine, however, the Jewish Agency welcomed the process of assimilation, because the Jews were assimilating among themselves and emerging as a people re-united and rebuilt.
Of the 640,000 Jews living in Palestine today, 230,000 were Palestinian born, mostly the children of immigrants. The Jews now in Palestine did not regard themselves as a stable and stationary population but rather as a vanguard preparing the ground for the absorption of more to come.
Economically and socially speaking the Jews in Palestine were a new society which was being built up by a process of immigration and settlement. They took away no livelihood from others; they created their own. Palestine had absorbed a considerable number of newcomers because they brought with them their means of livelihood, their capital, initiative, productive capacity, a certain amount of adaptability and ingenuity, and above all, a determination to make good and to discover latent possibilities of production by which they could live.
Mr. SHERTOK emphasized that it was the deliberate aim of the Jews in Palestine to create their own economy in order to be able to live an independent Jewish life, independent in the real sense of the term.
One of the outstanding features of Jewish colonization was the territorial compactness of Jewish settlements. This was to be observed not only in villages but in the urban zones as well. There was room in Palestine for many more Jewish settlements, both in the ones already colonized by Jews and in the parts of Palestine which were today uniformly Arab.
“We believe”, said Mr. SHERTOK, “that we cannot make good by working as individuals with the mass of the Arab population in the economic and territorial sense, as we do, perforce in all other countries, with the population of those countries. Such a process, if applied in Palestine, would have defeated our purpose. It is our purpose to build up a self-contained national system resting on its own foundations. It is the only way in which we can hope to settle in large numbers and to feel economically secure and nationally independent.”
Pioneering on the land, reclaiming the land from age-old neglect and building up a new society from the very foundations and become the highest ideal of the Jewish youth. Today only nineteen percent of Jews actually lived on the land — the same percentage as in the United States of America. Jewish immigration had been a transition of town-bred people to rural life and agriculture. In the Jewish secondary schools there are societies of youth whose ambition was not to go to universities but to pioneer in agriculture. Every dunum of land possessed by Jews in Palestine had had to be bought and reclaimed at their own expense. They had received no help in that regard from the Mandatory. Even in regard to state domain, in spite of the very express provision of the Mandate to place suitable land at the disposal of the Jews, they had obtained practically nothing. They had received some areas of land, though entirely uncultivable, merely for individual and housing purposes, but nothing for agriculture.
Today the Jews possessed just over 6 percent of the land area of Palestine. About 40 to 45 percent of this was nationally owned land of the Jewish National Fund, controlled by the Zionist Organization. The rest was privately owned or held as concessions.
Mr. SHERTOK expressed the wish that the members of the Committee, during their visit, should look not merely at what the Jews had achieved in the agricultural field but also to gauge the wide margin of undeveloped potentialities.
The Jewish Agency, in its colonization program, had followed, from the social as distinct from the agricultural standpoint, two main principles — self-government of the settlers from the beginning, and self-determination of the settlers in regard to the particular social form which they chose for their collective work and living. Thus the burden of responsibility was thrown completely on the settlers themselves.
Mr. SHERTOK then dealt at some length with the results obtained by the cooperation and mutual help between the Jewish agricultural settlers, and with the so-called Zionist system of colonization.
Mr. SHERTOK next turned to the place which Jewish industry occupies in the economic life of Palestine. Eighty percent of the industry of Palestine, which was entirely new, was in Jewish hands. The transition from war-time to peace-time economy had been a fairly smooth one and the Jewish industrial structure had shown quite a remarkable degree of stability and resilience in its readaptation to new conditions.
Industrial development had been the backbone of the Jewish urban development. Urban development had also been expressed in municipal self-government. There were in Palestine, three types of municipalities — the purely Arab municipalities, the mixed municipalities, and the purely Jewish municipalities. The difference between the three could be seen in the level of the services performed, in the taxes raised and in the degree of democracy is self-government. In the purely Jewish municipalities, women had the vote, and the rate-paying qualification for electing and being elected was fairly low. In the mixed it was higher. In the Arab municipalities it was still higher.
The Jewish labour movement played a very distinct role in the sphere of agriculture and industry. The main Jewish labour organization, the Histadruth had taken over a large number of industries. There was also a great deal of cooperative activity within the frame of the labour federation and outside it.
All this activity called for a certain amount of organization. The organization of Jewish people in Palestine operated on two levels — the organization of Palestine Jews and the Jewish Agency Organization.
The former — the Palestine Jewish Community — was recognised as a corporate body: they had their general elections based on universal suffrage, and they had their central authority.
The latter — the Jewish Agency Organization — spoke for Jews throughout the world interested in the building up of Palestine as a Jewish National Home. There was co-ordination and division of functions between the Agency and the Vaad Leumi. The departments of the Vaad Leumi cared for the needs of the existing population; those of the Jewish Agency looked after the needs of people who came to Palestine and the development of new potentials. During the war, the Jewish Agency and the Vaad Leumi had jointly organised the war effort of the Jewish community, as a result of which 33,000 men and women, of whom 26,000 were army, navy, air force responded to the call for armed service. Palestinian Jews had fought in the war as a distinct entity, later recognized in the Jewish brigade corps which had fought in Italy.
Mr. SHERTOK concluded his statement by emphasising that the Jewish community was a nation in the making. There was a national economy already in existence. A great deal of the present crisis arose from the fact that there was a discrepancy or conflict between the actual position of the Jewish people and the Jewish economy in Palestine, the status which today it enjoyed, and the instruments of collective action which it lacked and the opportunities of economic and political self-defence which it had not got.
Members of the Committee then sought information from Mr. SHERTOK on points arising from his statement. The questions and answers during this part of the meeting are reproduced for the most part in extenso, as follows: —
CHAIRMAN: You mentioned the number of Jewish inhabitants here as being 640,000.
Mr. SHERTOK: Yes.
CHAIRMAN: It would be interesting to compare that figure with your estimate of the total population.
Mr. SHERTOK: The total population is just over 1,900,000.
CHAIRMAN: Does that include also the nomads?
Mr. SHERTOK: I believe so.
CHAIRMAN: Does the term Negeb refer to a well-defined territory, or is it only a vague terminology applied to a land in a certain direction?
Mr. SHERTOK: I appreciate the point. To avoid any vagueness, .we now, in referring to the Negeb, mean to cover the Beersheba Sub-District. We take the Negeb as being practically identical with the Beersheba Sub-District, which is a quite definite unit or area. It is an area of about 12 million dunums.
CHAIRMAN: Is that the exact use of the term, or is there another use of it?
Mr. SHERTOK: Well, you always take care, when somebody else uses the term, to put to him the question which you have just put to me. In our literature — if I may use that term — that is the significance of the term “Negeb”.
CHAIRMAN: Might I also ask you about the percentage of Jews settled on the land in the rural districts?
Mr. SHERTOK: I said nineteen percent in the rural areas.
CHAIRMAN: You said the women had the right to vote in Jewish communities.
Mr. SHERTOK: In the Jewish municipalities and local councils.
CHAIRMAN: How is it with the Moslems?
Mr. SHERTOK: The women have no right. I believe the only Moslem women who vote in Palestine are the members of the few Arab families who happen to be included in the area Of Tel Aviv.
CHAIRMAN: Do you make a distinction between the actual use of the vote and the right to vote?
Mr. SHERTOK: What I am referring to is the right to vote, not the actual use of the vote. They have no right to vote. Suffrage in the purely Arab and Moslem areas is restricted to males. May I point out that in Haifa and Jerusalem Jewish women — not only Arab, but also Jewish women — have no right to vote in municipal elections. In Tel Aviv they have.
CHAIRMAN: Does any member of the Committee wish to ask a question on the statement? I intend to proceed later about the subject matter.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): I am not quite sure whether this question is within the scope of the statement at this stage. What I would I do to ask is how does the cooperation of the Palestine Administration with the Jewish Agency work in practice? How is this cooperation organized in practice?
Mr. SHERTOK: I am afraid I am in a bit of difficulty in answering this question because the present position is not normal. I could return to the period before 1939. In the period before 1939 there was a fairly frequent contact between the Jewish Agency and the Palestine Government — both the central organs; that is to say, the High Commissioner and the Secretariat, its Departments of Public Health, Public Works, Immigration, etc., the Police, and the District Administration. More often perhaps, in other questions, it was the Jewish Agency who took the initiative in approaching the Government and making representations in writing or orally, drawing attention to certain matters, asking for redress of certain grievances, making proposals, or criticizing proposals of the Government. But fairly often the Jewish Agency would be called in by the Government for advice on something or in order to an expression of the Government’s views on the Jewish Agency’s policy and what was happening in the Jewish community. There has been particularly close cooperation between us and the Government in the field of public security. When the Government would appoint committees consisting of or including representatives of the public, they would invariably consult us before they appointed the Jewish members of the committees.
In immigration there was close cooperation, not merely by our giving our views on the various immigration laws and regulations, but also by our taking over from the Government the distribution of a large number of immigration permits — all the permits that went to the so-called labour category.
Today the position, as compared with that, is about normal because the cornerstone of the cooperation between us and the Government has been knocked out by the White Paper policy. We hold that by the White Paper of 1939 the Government has violated the Mandate, and after all it is the Mandate that is the basis of cooperation. We hold that not only is the Mandate inoperative today in its main provision, but also that the policy which is actually being enforced is in direct opposition to the terms of the Mandate. It does not prevent contact between us and the Government, but I would describe it as more haphazard, less systematic than it used to be. And I must say it is unfortunate, but a fact, that relations are extremely strained.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): I have one more question on the same line. It is a legal question. What is considered by the Jewish Agency as legally a Jew? Is it religion, or race, or what is the criterion? For instance, is the non-Jewish wife of a Jew a Jewess, or is she not?
Mr. SHERTOK: I would say technically and interests of Palestine legislation, the Jewish religion is essential. What is essential is that a person should not go over to other religions. He need not necessarily be actively an observant Jew. He is still considered a Jew, but if he becomes converted to another religion he can no longer claim to be considered as a Jew. The religious test is decisive.
Mr. BLOM (Netherlands): What about the non-Jewish wife of a Jew?
Mr. SHERTOK: A non-Jewish wife, unless she becomes a Jewess and there is a certain formula for her to go through in that case — is considered a non-Jewess.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): It is not a question of a woman. How can a non-Jew become a Jew?
Mr. SHERTOK: In the case of a man there is a certain rite, which is usually performed soon after his birth, which is essential. But I should like to point out that Jewish religious authorities discourage conversion to Judaism and when a person comes and says “I want to become a Jew”, he is first of all preached a very discouraging sermon to warn him against that step, and only those who insist and show great seriousness of purpose is accepted into the fold.
CHAIRMAN: On the same line I should like to put a question. What did you intend to do with regard to future immigration?
Mr. SHERTOK: Generally we accept as Jews all who say they are Jews. All who come and say they are conscious of being Jews are accepted. The technical question may arise in the case of one appearing before the Rabbinical Court and having to produce certain papers, or when it comes to light that one is not actually a Jew. Then the problem may arise. Otherwise, anyone who appears and says he is a Jew is accepted as a Jew.
CHAIRMAN: You mean it is not a question of practical importance?
Mr. SHERTOK: No, in actual practice we have had no difficulty of that sort.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): May I know how many conversions there have been in fact in the last ten years to Judaism?
Mr. SHERTOK: I will undertake to supply the figures. I cannot give the reply offhand, but it is negligible.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Consisting of hundreds — thousands — tens?
Mr. SHERTOK: I think tens. I will check up.
Mr. BRILEJ (Yugoslavia): The representative of the Jewish Agency spoke about prohibited zones. This is not quite clear to me. Is the purchase of land prohibited to immigrating Jews only, or also to Jews who are citizens of Palestine? If that is so, can you tell us some other examples of discrimination?
Mr. SHERTOK: It definitely applies to Jews who are citizens of Palestine. There is no distinction at all between citizens, resident Jews or new-comers. The law says that in a prohibited zone a Palestine Arab may sell land only to a Palestine Arab and to no other, and that excludes all Jews. This is a moot point as to who is or is not an Arab. The High Commissioner decides. Moot points arise also in regard to other people.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Are you aware that in other parts of the world there is similar legislation restraining persons from alienating or purchasing land from certain persons?
Mr. SHERTOK: Here it is on racial lines. We have had in Palestine and we have today, protective measures of a purely social character applying to classes, irrespective of race or origin. But here we have a distinct racial measure.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Are you aware that in India, for example in the Punjab, a Shaikh cannot purchase property only because he is a Shaikh?
Mr. SHERTOK: I know. I should like to say that a sheik is a person holding a certain social position.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): The Shaikh in the Punjab is something different from the sheik that you have. In the same way other communities are not entitled to purchase land or sell land. There are protective legislations in other parts of the world.
Mr. SHERTOK: With regard to Palestine two points arise. First, there is a distinct provision in the Mandate prohibiting the passing of any legislative measure of a discriminatory character on racial grounds. The second point is that there is an express injunction in the Mandate to encourage close settlement of Jews on the land, and this measure to which we have been referring is in diametrical opposition to both these provisions.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): I hope to have the pleasure of putting some questions in the future, but just now, since we did not know most of the facts which have been related by the witness, we should like to have time for studying them.
CHAIRMAN: We shall have time to come back to the subject. Our object is to get background, for our inspection tour. The Yugoslav member also asked if there were other discriminations of, a similar kind.
Mr. SHERTOK: Nothing occurs to me at the moment.
Mr. BRILEJ (Yugoslavia): For our Committee, the question of cooperation between Jews and Arabs is of great importance. Can you tell us some characteristic examples of such cooperation? I mean cooperation in the economic field.
Mr. SHERTOK: It is a question; of producing instances and not embarking on generalisations, and I can give three instances. One is the Municipal Council of Haifa, where Jews and Arabs cooperate in the Municipal Council and in the Police Force fairly smoothly. Jews have worked many years under and for an Arab Mayor and Arabs are now working under a Jewish Mayor. That is an instance in one field: municipal Palestine activity.
Another instance is the cooperation between Jewish and Arab orange-growers. I have referred to the fact that this is an industry which is shared in almost equal parts by Jews and Arabs. There is a governing Board — the Citrus Control Board — presided over by an official of the Government and consisting of Jewish and Arab representatives of the trade concerned in equal numbers, and their cooperation is very smooth. Also there is an independent undertaking from time to time by Jewish orange-growers with which Arab orange-growers cooperate, such as delegations abroad, discovering new markets, negotiating trade agreements in regard to the sale of oranges, etc. purchase of packing materiel, etc.
The third instance is joint strikes of Jewish and Arab employees where they work together and more or less on the same terms. There was a strike of Government employees about a year and a half ago which embraced a large number of Jews and Arabs and which, from the point of view of racial relation’s — I was not there and I cannot say how it ended — went off remarkably well and smoothly. Also, recently there was a strike of Jewish and Arab post office and various military work employees — they struck together.
CHAIRMAN: May I ask whether these strikes, were of an economic character?
Mr. SHERTOK: Purely economic.
Mr. FABREGAT (Uruguay): I should like to ask a question about educational life in Palestine. What is the trend of illiteracy in the country?
Mr. SHERTOK: I had it in mind to say something about education, but I saw that I had been a little too long. I left it out. There is in Palestine a Jewish school system organised and administered by the Vaad Leumi under the supervision of the Palestine Government. It is run by the community on autonomous lines. It consists largely of elementary schools, but it also contains a number of secondary schools and a few teacher-training colleges and industrial schools. There is also a considerable number of private schools, some of them are affiliated and partly supervised by the Jewish public school system, and some are not. There is a large number of secondary schools which are private or controlled by semi-public bodies. At the top of the educational system there are two institutions of higher studies — the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Hebrew Technical Institute in Haifa, both of which are under boards constituted to ensure their public character and which have their own sources of income, large their own endowments. The Hebrew school system receives a block grant from the Government as part of the Government’s education budget, which is calculated on a proportionate basis between the total of Jewish and Arab children. It is a rather intricate formula, but I am sure when the representatives appear before you they will be glad to initiate you.
CHAIRMAN: What about the Arab side of education?
Mr. SHERTOK: There is a Government school system which is completely Arab. It serves the needs of the Arab population. Its teachers, with a few exceptions who are British, are Arab and the language of instruction is Arabic. In the Jewish schools the language of instruction is Hebrew. Both English and Arabic are taught in Jewish schools. In the Government schools, which are for practicaly purposes Arab, Arabic is the instrument of tuition and English is taught fairly extensively. Hebrew is not taught.
Mr. FABREGAT (Uruguay): Is the infant mortality in Palestine decreasing over the last year?
Mr. SHERTOK: I believe. I think Mr. Horowitz has the facts.
CHAIRMAN: You have studied the Survey, I suppose. There are curtain tables given there. Do you think those tables are accurate?
Mr. SHERTOK: I can produce for the time being figures for Moslem mortality, and my colleague is looking for the Jewish figures. In the year 1922-23 Moslem infant mortality was 186.37. In the years 1944-46 it was 99.9 — a very considerable drop.
Mr. ENTEZAM (Iran): I should like to ask Mr. Shertok a question in French because I understand he speaks French, as well as English. I have not thought of asking him the question. I am going to ask until I heard the answer he gave to the member from Yugoslavia on the subject of collaboration between Jews and Arabs. Mr. Shertok gave three examples of collaboration which seems very encouraging, and I should like to have his opinion as to whether or not this experience of cooperation between Jews and Arabs will not prove fruitful if, as and when Palestine is made an independent country.
Mr. SHERTOK: Although I have been paid such a high compliment, I believe I shall make my reply in English. I am afraid Mr. Entezam’s conclusion, although well-intentioned, is not fully warranted. I have referred to instances of cooperation between Jews and Arabs who are in Palestine on the plane of their day to day interests in walks of life where they rub shoulders together as common residents and citizens of the country, and they are indeed encouraging because I believe they show there is nothing which is inherent in the nature of either Jew or Arab which prevents them from rubbing shoulders and pulling together in matters where their common interest is self-evident. This does not mean that in the event of the establishment of Palestine as a united independent state, things will run smoothly. I am afraid they will not. Why? Because the paramount issue of the problem of this country is Jewish immigration: whether the Jewish settlement in Palestine is to be crystallised at the level of one-third, as decreed by the White Paper, or whether Jewish immigration is to proceed further to the full measure of this country’s capacity to absorb immigrants without displacing others and without harming others. On this issue the attitude of both sides is clear and for the time being it is mutually antagonistic. I would refer Mr. Entezam to the attitude of the Jewish community and the expressed attitude of the Arab leadership. The Arab leadership is uncompromisingly opposed to any Jewish immigration. They have said they believe there are already too many Jews in Palestine. I do not know what practical conclusion they will draw from this basic premise in the event of their gaining control by virtue of two-thirds majority, but anyhow they are opposed to any Jewish immigration. This is the paramount issue and the Jews naturally feel that they have been left in the lurch at the mercy of a hostile Arab majority; hostile on a point which is the most vital point to the Jewish population, to its future, to its well-being, and to the fate of its brethren, outside.
While it is definitely encouraging to see signs of practical cooperation, this does not yet mean that the two sides are ready to compose political difficulties and pull together within the structure of one state without harming each other’s fundamental independence.
Mr. ENTEZAM (Iran): I have no more questions. I think we can come back to this question later. If I understand Mr. Shertok, he says this question of cooperation is conditional upon immigration, but for the time being I will not press it further. We can come back to it.
Mr. SHERTOK: May I explain that the practical cooperation is not conditional on the satisfactory solution of the immigration problem purely. There are other problems too.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): May I put one question in that connection? Would you like the laws of immigration to disappear from all the other states in the world?
Mr. SHERTOK: I have no opinion with regard to immigration to other states of the world.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): I am asking would you like, as a point of principle, all the laws of immigration to disappear?
Mr. SHERTOK: I would not go that far.
SIR Abdur RAHMAN (India): You would like the laws of immigration to remain in other states as they are now?
Mr. SHERTOK: I have no opinion on that.
Mr. Garcia SALAZAR (Peru): According to the two documents I have read I am under the impression that the greatest number of villages in Palestine are either wholly Jewish or wholly Arab. Is that a fact?
Mr. SHERTOK: That is so. With regard to villages they are either wholly Arab or wholly Jewish. There are mixed towns, but no mixed villages.
Mr. Garcia GRANADOS (Guatemala): What part of the taxes collected by the Palestine Administration is paid by the Jewish people? Do you have the figure? In what amount are those taxes invested again to the benefit of the Jewish people?
Mr. SHERTOK: May I ask Mr. Horowitz to answer.
Mr. HOROWITZ: About two-thirds of the revenue of the Palestine Government is derived from Jewish sources. It is more difficult to estimate the benefits because many of the services are for services are for the country as a whole, and I would not take it upon myself to calculate the expenditure. It is predominantly for the Arab population. No doubt the bulk of the expenditure is to the benefit of the Arab population, but as to the revenue, the nearest estimate which is agreed upon by the Government is that something about two-thirds or the revenue is derived from the Jewish population, which forms about one-third of the population.
CHAIRMAN: Does anyone else wish to ask a question? I have a couple of questions which have occurred to me.
SIR Abdur RAHMAN (India): I have a question — on facts only. How much money does the Jewish population outside Palestine send to Palestine every year?
Mr. HOROWITZ: I cannot tell you for every year but I can give you the global figure for the whole period of time of Jewish colonization since the first World War. We estimate the imported Jewish capital at something like 150 million pounds brought into the country. I should like to emphasize that a considerable proportion of this capital is percolating, naturally, into the Arab community and the adjacent Arab countries.
Mr. SHERTOK: I should like to supplement this. Money that is being sent by Jews abroad to Palestine is not being sent to subsidize living in Palestine. It is sent in order to enable Palestine to absorb new Jews who arrive and to develop the country’s potentialities. The Jewish community of Palestine as such is self-supporting; it is not only self-supporting, but it also contributes fairly considerable amounts for Jewish national purposes, for help and rescue of ‘Jews abroad.
SIR Abdur RAHMAN (India): How much money has been made by the Potash Co. ever since the concession was granted to it?
Mr. SHERTOK: I could try to give the figures in case the Potash Co. will agree to open its ledgers. It holds a concession from the Government and the Government no doubt are fully aware of its figures.
CHAIRMAN: We are going to see the Potash Co. later and we right then have the figures.
One of the questions I want to put concerns the nationality question. When a Jew immigrants here, is his acquisition of Palestine nationality dependent upon his renouncing his original nationality?
Mr. SHERTOK: Yes.
CHAIRMAN: He has no double nationality?
Mr. SHERTOK: No double nationality. It is not a question of Palestine legislation. It depends on the legislation of the various states from which he originates. With regard to the United Kingdom there is a clause which states that if an Englishman living abroad adopts the nationality of his country of domicile he does not thereby lose his British nationality. But I believe that is an exception to the general rule that by adopting a new nationality, one has to relinquish his former one. That applies to most Jews who come here.
SIR Abdur RAHMAN (India): The question remains whether the persons coming from other countries, other parts of Europe besides England, relinquish their former nationality.
SIR ABDUR RAHMAN (India): They do not enjoy double nationality.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): Those who remain in Palestine are no longer subject to the nationality of the country where they have come from?
Mr. SHERTOK: They have to apply for and receive Palestine nationality. The one condition is two years continuous residence in Palestine before they can apply. Another condition is a knowledge of at least one of the three official languages of the country. There may be other conditions as to desirability.
Sir Abdur RAHMAN (India): May I ask you how many of the persons who have come during the last two decades became domiciled according to the law of Palestine?
Mr. SHERTOK: We have figures only up to the middle of 1945. From 1925-45, 100,000 Jews — that is heads of families — applied for naturalisation.
Mr. Garcia SALAZAR (Peru): I should like to know to what authority the applications for nationality must be made.
Mr. SHERTOK: The Palestine Government — technically to the Immigration Department on behalf of the High Commissioner. The passport is issued under the authority of the High Commissioner.
CHAIRMAN: I have one more question and I am afraid, a major one, and I do not want an exhaustive answer. You touched, in your statement, upon the possibility of Palestine receiving more immigrants. That brings us to the absorbtive economic capacity of Palestine. How would you estimate that capacity?
Mr. SHERTOK: The absorbtive economic capacity of a country can be estimated only in relation to a certain given period. It cannot be estimated in absolute terms with regard to all eternity. We then venture into the realm of the unforeseeable. But with regard to a definite period a more or less reasonable estimate can be formed.
In the olden days before the hapless year of 1937 the procedure was that once in six months the Jewish Agency presented to the Government an estimate of the absorbtive economic capacity for workers alone — that did not affect other categories. Then there was an argument between us and the Government as to whether our figures were correct, and the Government usually cut our figures down very liberally and gave us what they said they thought was the absorbtive economic capacity of Palestine. They used to call it EACOP — Economic Absorbtive Capacity of Palestine in those days. But if you ask me with regard to the total absorbtive economic capacity, we could and I think we shall present you with an estimate of the possibility of economic absorbtive capacity during the coming years, during a period of twelve months. We shall say this is what we think it is.
CHAIRMAN: I suppose the question depends also on the capital you want to invest.
Mr. SHERTOK: Naturally that has to be considered.
CHAIRMAN: It is a question which will be interesting to us.
Mr. SHERTOK: May I say I refer only en passant to our hope that there will be considerable Jewish immigration. I did not deal with the subject.
CHAIRMAN: Just as little as my question indicates an inclination for a certain solution.
Mr. SHERTOK: May I say that to us economic capacity and the adoption of that principle means freedom to create economic capacity. It does not merely mean ability to estimate, but freedom to create it.
Mr. HOOD (Australia): With a view to the future work of the Committee, would Mr. Shertok indicate broadly how his Organisation would contemplate the presentation and development of the case it wishes to put before the Committee both by way of written material and also oral statements, to the extent to which the Committee desire to hear? In particular, I have before me now a volume titled The Jewish Case as presented before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry of last year. In particular it will be helpful, I think, to know whether we are to take this as still the substantial basis of the case which will be before this Committee, or whether we may expect supplementary documentation to bring the volume up to date.
Mr. SHERTOK: In the covering letter to the volume to which Mr. Hood has referred, addressed, I believe, to you Sir, it was made clear by our Chairman that we present this volume to you with a view to its being regarded by you as a basis for the presentation of our case to this Committee. At the same time our Chairman said that we intended to supplement the material contained in this volume by a series — a short one. I hope — of memoranda and notes bringing certain information up to date and filling certain gaps left by our case as contained in this volume. We intend to do it within the coming weeks of your inquiry in Palestine. We hope to complete this before you leave the country. With regard to oral evidence we take it that we shall be given opportunity to make our representations orally before this table after — as I understand from your Secretariat — you have completed your tour of Palestine. I would suggest that this question may be gone into between our liaison officer and the Secretary of the Committee with regard to arrangement of details as to dates and who is to appear.
CHAIRMAN: I suppose at the oral hearing you are going also to give the outline of what is stated in the written statement.
Mr. SHERTOK: It will mean generally covering the same ground.
At this point, the CHAIRMAN thanked. Mr. Shertok and Mr. Horowitz for their contribution and the Committee passed to the next item on the agenda.
Itinerary of Tour
The Committee proceeded to examine the report of its sub-committee on this question.
(1) It was decided to adopt the recommendation of the sub-committee regarding visits to Haifa (Thursday) and the Palestine Potash Works, the Jordan and Jericho (Friday).
(2) A decision concerning a Saturday excursion was deferred pending further consideration by the sub-committee.
(3) The CHAIRMAN announced there would not be any trips made on Sunday (22 June) or Monday by the Committee.
(4) It was agreed that the party would travel together during the trips on Thursday and Friday.
(5) It was agreed that the Liaison Officers should accompany the Committee.
The meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m.
Document Type: Summary record
Document Sources: General Assembly, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP)
Subject: Demographic issues, Economic issues, Education and culture, Land, Legal issues, Living conditions, Palestine question, Population, Racial discrimination, Social issues, Women
Publication Date: 17/06/1947