Mr. Hay to Mr. Griscom.

No. 354.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 316, of the 31st ultimo, reporting that you are advised by the United States consul at Jerusalem that the Ottoman minister of the interior has issued a new order respecting the sojourn in Palestine of foreign Jews who go there as pilgrims or visitors.

You state the provisions of the order and request instructions in the premises.

Setting aside the objectionable feature whereby a racial or religious distinction is made in regard to Jews, and of which feature this Government finds difficulty in taking official cognizance, in view of our constitutional inhibition against any disability founded on creed, the Turkish order now reported appears to establish the rule of three months’ permitted sojourn of American visitors to Palestine, for which we have always contended. See instructions to Mr. Straus, No. 13, dated October 14, 1898, and subsequent correspondence, on the subject [Page 518] of the Ottoman regulations respecting the entrance of foreign Jews into Palestine.

It should, however, be made clear to the Turkish authorities that the consuls of the United States in Turkish jurisdiction are neither directed nor permitted by law to assist the Turkish officers in their execution of municipal laws or regulations, and therefore could not intervene to constrain the departure of an American citizen from Turkish jurisdiction. Neither can the consul be called upon to forego the performance of his duty in case an American citizen should be harshly dealt with in contravention of treaty or law.

As the consul is without authority to compel a visiting American citizen to deposit his passport and citizen papers in the consulate, it would seem that he is not in a position to contest the Turkish requirement that such papers be surrendered to the Ottoman officers during the time of sojourn in Palestine.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.