The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wadsworth) to the Secretary of State

No. 577

Subject: Effect of Jewish Immigration on the Population of Palestine.

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s “informal comment” of March 10, 1938,38 on my despatch No. 503 of January 8, 1938, discussing local reaction to the British White Paper on Palestine of January 4, 1938. Inquiry is made as to whether the consequent delay in proceeding to settlement of the Palestine problem tends to favor the Jews or the Arabs as regards population and, specifically, whether, at the present rate of immigration, the proportion of Jews and Arabs in the total population is changing to any appreciable extent.

[Page 918]

Delay, it is believed, definitely favors the Arabs in the matter of population, since postponement of decision is almost certain to be accompanied by some arbitrary restriction of immigration. As reported in despatch No. 353 of November 17, 1937,38a Jewish immigration was arbitrarily reduced to an average of 1,000 a month for the eight months’ period ended March 31, 1938; and, as reported in despatch No. 556 of March 19, 1938, this restrictive policy was continued, although in slightly more liberal form, for an additional period of six months. By the term “favorable to the Arabs” is meant favorable as compared with the immigration of previous years under the principle of absorptive capacity. The very cornerstone of Arab demands, it cannot be too often emphasized, is complete cessation of Jewish immigration.

The Consulate General’s further study of available statistical information on which to base a reply to the Department’s inquiry as to the future percentages of Arabs and Jews in the population of Palestine at the present rate of immigration has revealed some interesting facts. First, let it be said that it is impossible to arrive at an exact or completely reliable figure of the number of Jewish immigrants who must enter Palestine annually to maintain the present percentage of Jews to Arabs, because the vital statistics of Palestine are admittedly not wholly to be relied upon and because of complications of computation arising from the unknown factors of emigration and possible changes in the natural increase in population. The most authentic estimates thus far published were those set forth in the Annual Report for 1936 of the Palestine Department of Migration—please see the Consulate General’s voluntary report of May 5, 1937, entitled “History of Post-War Jewish Immigration into Palestine.”39 The following table quoted from page 10 of that report effectively summarized these estimates:

Assumed annual rate of Jewish immigration. Year in which Jewish population will equal the Arab population. Size each of Arab and Jewish populations at the time when both are equal.
10,000 Never
20,000 Very remote
30,000 Mid-1960 1,560,000
40,000 Early 1954 1,390,000
50,000 Early 1950 1,280,000
60,000 Mid-1947 1,210,000

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Respectfully yours,

G. Wadsworth
  1. Not found in Department files.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. ii, p. 918.
  3. Not printed.