Scheme for the Improvement of the Civil and Moral Conditions of the Jews in the East, Albert H. Hyamson, 1939.
It may be assumed as a fact, that the firm preservation of the influence lately acquired in Syria, must of great importance to England. However great this influence now may be, still, if nothing more be done, it must in the course of natural events be entirely lost, independent of the apposition of her two most powerful rivals, France and Russia; to which countries there exists a well-known sympathetic inclination on the part of those portions of the population, who profess the Roman and Greek Catholic Creeds.- Now if we consider the power of religious feelings in the East at large- if we consider the potent influence which in a Country like Syria, religion is likely to exercise, to the exclusion of all other ideas, ¬we shall not then experience much difficulty in accounting for the above-mentioned predilection.- This demonstrates to England, the path, by the following of which, she will be enabled to maintain her power- namely, to endeavour to acquire the sympathies of a Creed sufficiently extended and active, to operate everywhere.
England being a protestant state the simplest way would seem- the countenancing of Protestantism, and the granting of the same protection and privileges as the already named powers do to their Coreligionists.
But the unfitness of this proceeding is obvious from the following considerations.
I. There exist at this moment in Syria neither Protestantism nor Protestants; those few who travel through and exist in the Country, are from their number, unworthy of Consideration; and before Protestantism shall under existing circumstances have taken root, the influence already obtained will
II. As yet Protestantism as a creed has no legal foundation in Syria; to obtain
this, negociations with the Porte will be necessary, to the success of which Catholic powers on the one Hand, and on the other the apprehensions of the Porte, lest hostile feeling and European influence be increased, will present no inconsiderable obstacle.
III. If England endeavoured to maintain her influence in Syria, by promoting
Protestantism she would counteract her own efforts of alleviating to the Porte the government of Syria- for by introducing a new faith the jealousies of the other Christian and fanatical Mahometan population would be aroused, and the settling of the consequent differences would entail on the Porte fresh embarrassments.
If it be evident that England cannot attain her views by the propagation of Protestantism, she must direct her attention to another persuasion legally on a par with the resident Catholics and which evinces no sympathy with either of the Catholic Powers.- This persuasion is the Jewish one.- Scattered over the surface of the whole globe, the Jews still form in their religious sentiments an irrefragable unity, and a benefit conferred on any of them, fills the hearts of even their ocean-separated Brethren, with purely grateful feelings-
The question now is, how can England acquire their sympathy?
The answer to this is, By supporting the applications about to be made to the Porte for the establishment of a Colony in some well situated part of Palestine. The objects of this proposition are the foundation of agriculture and commerce for the benefit of such Jews, subjects of the Porte, who may be desirous of settling there. The Colony to be under Turkish Government and protection, and England to guarantee the maintenance of the conditions under which the Colony shall be formed.
From the following it will become obvious, what wants such a Colony will be enabled to meet-what special advantages (independent of those already Enumerated) will most likely accrue to England from the foundation of the Colony-and in what manner she could forward its advancement without compromise to herself.
It is a fact that the Jewish Subjects of the Porte although legally on a level with the other rajahs throughout the Empire especially in Palestine, do not enjoy the privileges granted to them by the Hattischerif of Gulhane. This Evil may in general be traced to the three following causes-
I. To the absence of an adequate protection whereby they are more exposed to cruel and tyrannical treatment.
II. To the blind hatred and ignorant prejudices of a fanatical populace.
III. To the several peculiarities which alienate them from the other inhabitants.
IV. To the starving state of a numerous Jewish population, resident in Palestine, hitherto subsisting in a great measure upon the charity of their occidental Brethren.
The weakness of the Porte on the one hand and on the other the dispersion of the Jews throughout so manifold a population prejudiced against them, together with the want of pecuniary resources and state of despondency occasioned by the existing distress, render the removal of the aforesaid evils impracticable if the above obstacles are allowed to continue. It is therefore necessary to fix upon a place which from its situation would be beyond the reach of fanatical attacks, in contact with European civilization-easily protected by the Porte,-and a spot to which the Jews might feel themselves attracted.
In the Colony, schools for the propagation of civilization might also be founded which would serve as the medium of intimation not only to the residents but also to those who living in a distant part of the Country might either send their children thither, or receive from these establishments competent instructors for their families at home.- Tracts of Land might also be granted to the settlers which would diffuse an agricultural spirit, which in its turn again would lead to other useful pursuits. Such a place is unquestionably to be found in some port of [the] Syrian Coast.
This acceded to, the following questions may arise-
I. Do the Turkish Jews, especially those of Palestine, feel the want of such a Colony, and would a part of them be inclined to settle there?
II. Will the Porte permit the establishment of a Colony?
III. Whence are the necessary funds to come?
IV. How may England countenance the undertaking?
The first of these questions may be answered in the affirmative, as might be proved by Letters from Jews residing there.
The answer to the second question depends upon the Porte- yet if we take into consideration the advantages which Syria would be likely to derive from the Establishment of such a Colony we are justified in supposing that the answer will be a favorable one.
The answer to the third question presents the greatest difficulties, as the funds as well as the direction of the scheme must emanate from Europe. These difficulties are however but seeming, and will disappear, if it be considered-
a. that the commencement on a small scale with an already resident population cannot be attended with great outlay.-
b. that the Sympathies of a great many of the European Jews are and have for a long time been directed towards the East, as is shewn by the pecuniary support which for Centuries past has been forwarded to their Asiatic Brethren.
c. that these sympathies would now be more called into action, in consequence of the late Damascus Events, and pecuniary sacrifices be greater, provided it could be shewn that these would be productive of lasting benefit to their brethren of the East.
d. that in consequence of the lively interests manifested by Christians, especially Protestants, for the Jews, the Holy Land, and Civilization at large, it is reasonable to expect pecuniary support from them.
e. that it is proposed to establish the settlement on a system of shares, which would place the required advances in the light not of a gift, but as a Loan, which in the course of a few years could be repaid and might also prove productive of profit to the Lenders.
f. that it is proposed to issue shares of small amount, so as to enable persons of moderate property to become Shareholders.
The answer to’ the fourth question will become manifest from the consideration of the following- It is obvious from what has already been said, that the proposed colony should be established under European direction and with European funds. But it may be advanced, that no European will invest his money in an undertaking which has no firmer guarantee than that, which may be offered by the now tottering and weak Turkish Government. Solely [sic] the manifestation of a warm interest for the Scheme in view, by a European Power, will serve as a guarantee for the durability of the undertaking. And as it is assumed that Englishmen will form the chief portion of the Enterprize, it is natural to suppose that these will look up to their government for sympathy and support, because of the advantages she may derive from the establishment of such a Colony. Thus England would not compromise herself, in following the above course, as the whole proceedings would bear the private character of a commercial speculation, in which the English Government, requested by both parties, does that which as a government it is her duty to do-as, for Example, in the case of aggression she would be bound to advocate the cause of her Subjects.
Assuming that what has been stated is sufficiently explicit, it may not appear superfluous to adduce more grounds which may influence England to take a warm part in the proceeding.
I. England would find in this Colony a new, sure, and stable market for her goods, where the known activity of the Jews and their connection throughout Asia would open to them new paths for exportation.
II. It would assist the Endeavours of England to strengthen the Porte by
converting a now useless portion of her subjects into an active community, an example that would not be lost upon the other subjects, and at the same time increase both the revenue of Turkey, and the welfare of Syria.
III. Civilization which so deeply interests England, would thus be promoted in this Country; and the Jews by their tractability and dispersion, are eminently adapted to its propagation.
IV. It behoves the Government of a country where Protestantism has taken the
deepest root-where a large and respectable portion of their Citizens manifest their Benevolence towards the Jews. It behoves, I repeat, the government of this Country, to extend its benevolence towards a nation through which Christianity has received its highest gifts-a nation which according to the Sacred Book-the Standard of faith for both religions-will once again act a high part.
The Jewish Historical Society of England- The British Consulate in Jerusalem in relation to the Jews of Palestine 1838-1914 by Albert H. Hyamson, pp. 42-46
Published by Edward Goldston, Ltd. London 1939