Mr. Angell to Mr. Sherman.

No. 78.]

Sir: In my No. 59 of December 8 I reported to the Department what I supposed was the happy termination of efforts I had been making for more than two months to secure permission for Mr. Simon Ben Nachman Lowenstein to purchase a house and lot in Jerusalem. In the absence of the grand vizier from his office a responsible subordinate, member of his staff, assured my dragoman that the prohibition to Hebrews to purchase real estate did not apply to such a person as Mr. Lowenstein, and that it had been decided to send orders to that effect to Jerusalem. Accordingly, I so informed you and our consul at Jerusalem.

But now I am surprised to receive a note verbale from the secretary for foreign affairs reporting the decision to refuse my request and referring me for the reasons to a note communicated to this legation on March 27, 1894. As it does not appear from our records that the note was ever sent to the Department and as the subject it discusses is one of no little importance, I inclose it to you for consideration.

[Page 1105]

It will be observed that under certain conditions permission will be accorded to American citizens who are Jews to purchase real estate. But they are conditions which are not imposed on other American citizens. I do not feel at liberty to ask any American Hebrew to comply with them, since by so doing I should make a discrimination against Hebrews, which is wholly foreign to the spirit of our institutions.

But I beg to call the attention of the Department to the argument which seems to underlie the Turkish regulation.

The Ottoman law of 1867, Which concedes to foreigners the right of holding real estate in the Ottoman Empire, and which is formally accepted by the protocol of 1874, declares in Article II:

Foreigners, proprietors of real estate in town or in country, are in consequence placed upon terms of equality with Ottoman subjects in all things that concern their landed property.

And, after specifying on certain particulars the legal effect of this equality, it says:

In short, they are iu all things to hold real estate by the same title, on the same condition, and under the same forms as Ottoman owners, and without being able to avail themselves of their personal nationality, except under the reserve of the immunities attached to their persons and their movable goods, according to the treaties.

Now, Ottoman subjects of the Jewish faith not being allowed to purchase real estate in Jerusalem except under certain limitations, Jews of foreign nationality, it is claimed, may be forbidden to purchase under the same limitations.

The prohibition under consideration applies only to Palestine, and we are assured owes its existence solely to the fear that an inundation of Jews may overflow Palestine and greatly embarrass the Government.

The above argument is not particularly dwelt upon in the note of 1894, but it has been adduced by the secretary for foreign affairs in conversations with me, though, I am bound to say, not with great emphasis. Still, sooner or later, we may expect to see it pressed, and therefore I have deemed it well to call the attention of the Department to it, so that, if thought expedient, proper instructions may be given in regard to it.

In answering the last note verbale I have purposely avoided all reference to this point, and have attempted to show that, as the main reason given in 1894 for the prohibitory regulation was the desire to prevent an inundation of Russian Jews, the case of Mr. Lowenstein does not fairly come within the scope of the prohibition. I had in my first note verbale (September, 1897) on this subject protested against any discriminations against American citizens of the Hebrew faith.

I have, etc.,

James B. Angell.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 78.—Translation.]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Mr. Angell.

note verbale.

The ministry of foreign affairs has received the memorandum No. 1 which the legation of the United States of America was pleased to [Page 1106]address to it on the 23d of September last, relative to a house which an American citizen, Simon Ben Nachman Lowenstein, wishes to purchase at Jerusalem.

The acquisition of real estate in Palestine by Jewish emigrants being prohibited on the grounds set forth in the note verbale of March 17, 1894, the imperial ministry regrets that it is not able to grant the request which forms the subject of the above-named memorandum.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 78.—Translation.]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Mr. Angell.

note verbale.

It appears from a report made by the governor of Jerusalem that Jewish emigrants from Russia, after going to the United States and becoming naturalized in that country, enter Palestine and seek to acquire property there.

The acquisition of real property in Palestine by Jewish immigrants is, however, forbidden. This measure, which is dictated by considerations of a political nature, has for its sole object the prevention of the permanent establishment in Palestine of Jewish immigrants, who, in spite of the existing prohibition, have succeeded or may succeed in entering the country.

The Imperial Government having prohibited entry into Palestine to foreign Jews emigrating in a body, as was communicated to the foreign missions by the circular notes verbales of October 4 and 8, 1888, no objection can reasonably be raised at the present day to a measure which is solely designed to safeguard and render more efficacious this prohibition.

Besides, as the interdiction against acquiring real property in Palestine applies to native Jews as well as foreign ones, the latter can not complain of unequal treatment.

In order, however, to avoid any prejudice being caused to the interests of foreign Jews duly settled in Palestine by the measure in question, the Defterhane (real-estate bureau) records the acquisition of real property if the purchaser, even though a Jew, presents a certificate from his consulate, attested by the governor of Jerusalem, showing that he does not belong to the class of Jews whose immigration into Palestine is forbidden, and if in addition he delivers a declaration by which he undertakes, in the case of urban property, not to allow the house he is buying to be inhabited by Jews of this category, and, in the case of rural property, not to found Jewish colonies on it. It is well understood that measures will be taken against persons who may act in a manner contrary to their declaration.

The ministry of foreign affairs requests the United States legation to furnish their consul at Jerusalem with the necessary instructions.

The United States Legation, Constantinople.

[Page 1107]
[Inclosure 3 in No. 78.]

Mr. Angell to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

note verbale.

The minister of the United States has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note verbale of December 22, 1897, declining to accede to his request that Mr. Lowenstein, an American citizen of the Jewish faith, should be permitted to purchase a house and lot in Jerusalem. Reference is made in the note to a note verbale of March 27, 1894, as giving the reasons for the refusal of the request. In that note verbale reference is made to another of October 8, 1888, as prohibiting “the coming to Palestine of Jewish immigrants in a body” (l’aecés de la Palestine aux Israelites étrangers émigrant en masse). In the note of October 8, 1888, it is said that the prohibition is limited to those who emigrate in a considerable number (à ceux qui émigrent en nombre).

The minister of the United States understands from these notes, as well as from conversations with his excellency, the minister of foreign affairs, that the regulations of the Ottoman Government were made when it was believed that great numbers of Jews were to be expelled from Russia, and, therefore, that there was danger of an inundation of them in Palestine.

But he begs leave to say that the case which he presents is entirely different from that against which the Ottoman regulations are directed. It is that of a solitary individual from America. It is not to be supposed that Russian Jews will go to the United States and spend the five years required for naturalization in order to come to Palestine as American citizens.

The minister of the United States trusts, therefore, that his excellency will conclude that there is no good reason for applying the regulation aimed at Russian Jews coming in great numbers to the case of Mr. Lowenstein.