No. 1062.
Mr. Straus to Mr. Bayard.

No. 57.]

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.,

O. S. Straus.
[Inclosure in No. 57.]

Mr. Gillman to Mr. Straus.

No. 1.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of copy of your No. 33, to Mr. Pringle, dated the 16th instant, and forwarded to me from the consulate-general with a dispatch dated the 19th instant.

In compliance with your request desiring information as to the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, I beg to make the following statement:

Though Jews belonging to other nationalities have been expelled from Jerusalem and Palestine, no American citizen has been expelled during my connection with this consulate. In all communications with the local authorities I have invariably and decidedly held the position that I could in no wise consent, much less render aid to expel from Palestine citizens of the United States who are Jews; that a fundamental principle of our Government was involved, which positively forbids any discrimination made for or against American citizens on account of their race or religion.

In this connection, I herewith inclose copy with translation of a communication received from his excellency Raouf Pasha, governor of Jerusalem and Palestine, dated September 10 last, a copy of which was transmitted by me to the Department of State at Washington, with my dispatch No. 26, dated September 28, 1887. This was followed by a verbal message from the governor informing me that of the ten consuls in Jerusalem I was the only one who had not assented and promised to render aid in carrying out this decree (iradeh) regarding the expulsion of the Jews. To this I simply affirmed my former declaration, informing the governor that I had made the matter the subject of a special dispatch to our Government and awaited the decision.

As my dispatch to the Department (No. 26, above referred to) inclosing the copy of the governors letter was, as usual, transmitted through the consulate-general, I did not consider it necessary to otherwise inform Mr. Pringle regarding the matter, especially as the local Turkish authorities were tacitly consenting to await the decision of our Department of State, and their relations with me, both personally and as the representative of our Government, have always been of the most friendly and conciliatory character.

I may add that when the verbal message of the governor was delivered to me the chancellor of the British consulate was present in this consulate, and expressed his surprise at my friendship for the Jews. When I took the occasion to ask him what the action of the British consulate was in such cases, he replied they invariably rendered the required aid to the Ottoman authorities in carrying out the decree, as did the other consulates.

It has since come to my knowledge, however, that quite lately an order from his Government to the British consul forbids such aid being any longer rendered.

It is unnecessary that I should allude to the attitude of the Russian, German, and other Governments toward the Jews, as it is doubtless well known to you. About two years ago, I understand, a ship-load of Russian Jews was not permitted to be lauded at Jaffa, but ordered to be returned whence it came; thus entailing great misery on the unfortunate people, who had been driven from their homes, many of them in poverty. Their condition was described to me as pitiable in the extreme, some of them being almost naked and without food, and suffering from sickness in consequence.

[Page 1561]

One peculiar phase of the case is that large numbers of the resident Jews share in this dislike to the coming here of more Jews. This is explained by the fact that it tends to the increase in price of all articles of living, adds little or nothing to the wealth of the city, and reduces the proportion of the charitable aid sent here by their wealthy co-religionists from abroad.

You will at once perceive, therefore, that the position I have taken, and that I am obliged to take, is a thankless one, exposing me on one side to the disapproval of the Ottoman Government, and on the other to the animosity of many of the resident Jews, not to take into the account the feeling on the subject entertained by the representatives of the various foreign governments.

In conclusion, and for a proper understanding of this decree, or iradeh, it may be well that I should state, it does not seem to apply to all American citizens in Palestine who are Jews, but only to those who have recently come here.

I am, etc.,

Henry Gillman.