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

No. 805

Sir: In despatch No. 577 of April 16, last, entitled “Effect of Jewish Immigration on the Population of Palestine”, I had the honor to submit detailed calculations establishing at approximately 5,300 “the number of Jews who must immigrate (annually into Palestine) if the current Arab-Jewish proportion (of 70–30) is to be maintained.”

These calculations were based on the Palestine Government’s published population statistics as of June 30, 1936, and on the respective rates of natural increase of the Arab and Jewish inhabitants for the calendar year 1936. Expressed in round figures the population at that time was 385,000 Jews and 900,000 Arabs, the population ratio between the two peoples being, therefore, 30 to 70 percent. The natural rates’ of increase used were respectively 21 and 33 per 1000. My conclusion, as already indicated, was that, if there should be no material variation in these rates of natural increase, there should be a net Jewish immigration during the year of 5,300 to maintain the existing ratio between the two peoples.

In the population figures then used two items were ignored, i. e. the number of nomad Arabs and “others”, respectively estimated at some 75,000 and 25,000. The latter figure included British military forces temporarily (sic) stationed in the country.

Population figures as of June 30, 1938, have now been officially published. They are, as usual, computed on the basis of recorded vital statistics and migration records of the intervening year. Only the number of the British military forces is omitted. To the nearest 1,000 they are as follows:

Settled 829,000
Nomad   67,000
Christian 112,000
Jews 400,000
Others   12,000
Total 1,420,000

On the basis of these new figures the Jews form only 28 percent of the total population, the Arabs 71 percent and the small figure of “others” one percent of the total. Thus there has been an apparent [Page 992]reduction of two percent in the Jewish percentage of the whole. That this reduction is only apparent, however, is clear from the fact that, in the population figures used in my preceding despatch, nomads and “others” were not included. If these items be omitted from the current figures we have—as of June 30, 1938—941,000 Arabs as against 400,000 Jews, or the same 70–30 ratio as was reported in my earlier despatch.

Actual rates of natural increase for 1937 as officially published in the recently issued Annual Report for 1937 of the Palestine Department of Health (please see despatch No. 799 of December 10, 193811) were for the Jews 18.9 and for the Arabs 24.4 per thousand. The latter figure is a balanced computation of the Moslem and Christian Arab rates of natural increase, respectively 24.9 and 19.6 per thousand. All three rates, it will be noted, are less than those of the preceding year.

With the foregoing figures in mind we may now follow the computations used on pages 4 and 5 of my previous despatch and compute anew, as for the current year, the figure of net Jewish immigration required to maintain the status quo of Jewish-Arab population ratio, as follows:

The anticipated natural increase of the Arab population for the year is 24.4 (per thousand) times 941 (thousands) or 23,000.
Adding this figure to the Arab population as of June 30, 1938, we obtain the estimated Arab population as of next June, i. e., 963,000 (nomads always omitted).
Employing these figures, the equation given on page 4 of my previous despatch becomes: 70 is to 30 as 963,000 is to x; and the unknown x—which represents the total number of Jews necessary at the end of the year to maintain the existing Jewish percentage in the population—is found to be 413,000.
Subtracting the known Jewish population of 400,000 we obtain a remainder of 13,000, which is the figure by which the Jewish population must increase to maintain the 30–70 ratio.
A part of this 13,000 will be made up through natural increase, i. e., 18.9 (per thousand) times 400 (thousands) or 7,600.
Subtracting this last figure from the 13,000 required total Jewish increase leaves a figure of 5,400 which represents the net Jewish immigration required during the coming year to maintain the 30–70 ratio.

Thus the conclusion may be drawn that, on the basis of the new figures as well as on that of those previously submitted, a net annual Jewish immigration of only some five thousand, three or four hundred can be permitted if the present ratio between the settled Jewish and Arab inhabitants of the country is to be maintained.

In the light of this conclusion it is interesting to examine, on the basis of published statistics, the actual effect on the country’s population of Jewish immigration during the calendar year 1937. These statistics indicate that 10,536 Jews entered the country in that year as [Page 993]immigrants. The figure includes those arriving as visitors and later given permission to remain permanently and may, for purposes of the present discussion, be taken as representing the net increase in the population due to Jewish migration. For it may reasonably be assumed that Jewish emigration about balanced the number of Jews entering the country illegally.

There is, of course, no official estimate of the number of illegal entrants, but well-informed persons estimate it at about 3,000 annually; and while, as earlier reported, emigration figures are unreliable, total Jewish emigration may be estimated at a similar figure. The records of this office show that in 1937 some 2,000 American and alien Jews went to the United States alone for permanent residence.

Therefore, approximately 5,000 more Jews than the 5,400 necessary to maintain the 30–70 ratio entered the country in 1937, changing the population ratio by about ⅓ of one percent in favor of the Jews. Expressed in numbers, we find that the Jewish population increased by approximately 18,000 (10,500 through immigration and 7,500 through natural increase) while the Arab population gained approximately 23,000 (entirely through natural increase, as a rough balance was maintained between the relatively small Arab immigration and emigration). Hence, in 1937, Arab population gained over Jewish by approximately 5,000. It may be emphasized, however, that, as shown above, Jewish immigration at around the political high level of 1,000 a month has relatively little effect on the 30–70 ratio.

In conclusion, I may add that recently published migration statistics tend to bear out the estimate reported in my despatch No. 759 of October 31, last,12 that anticipated total immigration for the current calendar year would not exceed some 15,000. These statistics show that for the first nine months of the year 10,710 immigrants (of whom 9,363 Jews) were admitted. The question of illegal immigration was discussed in despatch No. 672 of August 6, last.12 It is thought that the total will be substantial, for rumors of “smuggling” persist; and I learn from various sources that a considerable number of temporary visitors of German and Austrian nationality will perforce be permitted to remain because their return to their countries of origin cannot reasonably be required and they are unable to obtain visas for other countries.

As to immigration for 1939, no prediction can be given at this time as it will depend on the decision taken by the British Government after the political discussions with Arabs and Jews—which it is proposed to hold in London next month. It is generally predicted in Jerusalem, however, that the upshot of any such discussions will involve reduction [Page 994]of annual Jewish immigration to or below that political high level figure of an average of roughly 1,000 a month imposed since August 1937.

Respectfully yours,

George Wadsworth
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