Mr. Straus to Mr. Bayard
Constantinople , January 28, 1888. (Received February 20.)
Sir: In answer to your instruction No. 51, of October 31, 1887, I have the honor to report:
Shortly after the receipt of your instruction, I called at the Porte and had an interview with the Grand Vizier on the subject in question. He informed me that a regulation had been communicated by the Porte to the Imperial authorities at Jerusalem to limit the stay of foreign Jews at Jerusalem to the period of one month. At a second interview he further informed me that the council of ministers was about amending the regulation so as to make the period three months. He gave as a reason for such a regulation, that the spirit of religious fanaticism rose to such a high pitch at Jerusalem that at certain seasons of the year, during Easter, the Jews were compelled to remain within their houses to avoid coming in contact with the Christians, who would attack them and perhaps murder them.
The purpose of the regulation was to avoid the possibility of such conflicts.
Another reason was also given by the Grand Vizier as the cause of this regulation, namely, the report that had spread abroad that the Jews throughout the world intended to strengthen themselves in and around Jerusalem with a view, at some future time, of re-establishing their ancient kingdom there.
I explained as to the first contingency, that it could be avoided by a strong force of police. As to the second, the re-establishment of a Jewish kingdom, I informed his highness that if the Porte would make inquiry it could easily satisfy itself that no such purpose actuated the Jews throughout the world. I informed him also that so far as concerned American citizens, naturalized or native, it is one of the fundamental principles of my Government to make no distinction as to its citizens based upon creed or race, and that, uniformly in its relation with foreign nations, it had emphatically denied their right to make such discriminations against American citizens. I quoted to him several passages from your correspondence and instructions bearing upon this principle, and referred to the ancient capitulations and the provisions of our treaty with the Ottoman Empire.
His Highness assured me should the authorities threaten to expel any American citizen he would give due weight to the foregoing considerations and give instructions accordingly.
Shortly thereafter the Right Honorable Sir William A. White, the British embassador, asked me what position my Government had taken [Page 1560] in reference to discriminations made against its citizens who were of the Jewish faith. He said that he desired to know in view of several cases before him arising under the aforesaid regulation of the Porte. He stated that the foregoing principles fully coincided with his own sense of duty and convictions, and that he would be guided accordingly.
About the same time I sent a dispatch to our consul-general here requesting him to instruct our consul at Jerusalem, Henry Gillman, esq., to make report whether any American citizens had been expelled or were threatened with expulsion; also to report such other facts relative to the subject as he might deem important. A copy of his dispatch in reply of December 31, 1887, I herewith inclose.
I have, etc.,