Mr. Terrell to Mr. Gresham.

No. 324.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the Porte admits that instructions have long ago been given to Turkish consuls in America not to visa the passports of Jews who visit Jerusalem for a longer stay than ninety days. This has led to the seizure and detention of the baggage of that sect at Jaffa, to secure their return within the time allowed, as will be seen from the inclosed dispatch from Consul Wallace at Jerusalem of the 3d instant to the consul-general at Constantinople. Mr. Wallace also, as you will see, reports cases of extortion by Turkish officers, presumably, from the facts given, with the knowledge of the local governor.

My instructions to the consul-general look to a correction of this evil.

I have remonstrated with the foreign minister on the seizure and detention of baggage, and notified him of my belief that his officials were levying blackmail at Jaffa.

The reason given for the avowed policy of preventing the settlement of Jews in Jerusalem in large numbers was stated with much seriousness by His Excellency Said Pasha as follows:

We believe that Jesus Christ was a great prophet, and if the Jews get control of Jerusalem they will steal the sepulcher of Christ and destroy everything that can remind people of him.

This feature of the interview was unexpected. I informed the Porte that the restriction on the right of American Jews to remain so short a period was a hardship about which I might have occasion to express myself hereafter. I did not go further because it may be safely assumed that, in the absence of all commerce there, a Jew who goes to stay over ninety days goes to remain, and besides, I can obtain your instructions by the time I can receive further details of extortion by the Turks at Jaffa.

I have, etc.,

A. W. Terrell.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 324.]

Mr. Wallace to Mr. Short.

No. 28.]

Sir: I desire to call your attention to a condition of affairs existing at the seaport of Jaffa and here at Jerusalem. Since assuming the duties of this consulate complaints have been from time to time made to me by incoming Jewish-American citizens that they are unnecessarily annoyed and put to expense by the Turkish officials at Jaffa when attempting to disembark. Tourists and persons coming here to visit or reside for an indefinite time are subject to the annoyance of having their baggage delayed at the custom-house for longer than is necessary. In many cases some official at Jaffa demands passports, and will not allow parties to enter till they deliver their passports to him. Then the one who has taken them will not return them to the owners until some [Page 751] money in the nature of a bribe is given. I have on two separate occasions appealed to the governor of Jerusalem in person, demanding by what authority such actions are taken. Promises have been made me that the matter will be looked into and the offenders punished. In no case am I certain that the promise has been fulfilled.

On last Friday, September 28 ultimo, nine persons, Jews, holding passports properly visaed by the Ottoman consul at New York, were prohibited from landing at Jaffa till they deposited a guaranty that they would leave the country inside of thirty days. One man, in company with his wife, landed, but had to deposit a sum of 6 napoleons. His baggage was retained at Jaffa.

This morning he appealed to me to know what to do. His passport was taken from him at the depot at Jerusalem as soon as he Stepped off the train, and was not returned.

I immediately called upon the governor and asked him by whose authority such things are done. His reply was he knew nothing about it, but he would inquire, and at least would order the delivery of the baggage to the owners.

Something more than this should be done or the indignity will be repeated. I therefore beg of you to lay the matter before the higher authorities at Constantinople, and inform me what further steps to take in the maintaining of treaty rights. I have done all in my power.

These indignities offered our citizens on landing at Jaffa and Jerusalem are a disgrace, and should be immediately and summarily put a stop to. Any delay on our part in taking note of them will but aggravate the indignity.

Will you kindly inform me also if the Ottoman consuls in America have authority to say in their visa on a passport that the privilege to remain in the Turkish dominions is limited to thirty or ninety days or to any period? Passports are often so visaed. Shall the bearer of a passport so visaed be compelled to obey it?

Hoping some immediate action toward remedying these evils will be taken,

I remain, etc.,

Edwin S. Wallace.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 324.]

Mr. Terrell to Mr. Short.

No. 53.]

Sir: Your No. 72, of October 15, has just been received, inclosing copy of Consul Wallace’s dispatch No. 28, of the 3d instant, relating to the seizure of the baggage of Jews by Turkish officials. These men, being American citizens, are entitled to our protection, and you will instruct Consul Wallace to protest in every instance when the baggage of an American citizen is detained after examination at the customhouse, and to report every case of extortion by Turkish officials, with name of the parties and date, and to forward when practicable the affidavit of the party. Also to report each instance under oath of the party when baggage is detained or other indignity practiced. It is the policy of the Turks to forbid the permanent settlement in large numbers of Jews, but as tourists they must receive full protection as American citizens.

On the receipt of satisfactory evidence that the governor retains officials after he is informed that they receive bribes or practice extortions, [Page 752] I will demand, and doubt not that I will effect, his removal. The evidence should be in the shape of affidavits to accompany the consul’s report.

I have, etc.,

A. W. Terrell.