'File 15/18 FOREIGN AND POLITICAL DEPARTMENT CIRCULARS RECEIVED FROM THE GOVT OF INDIA.' [5r] (15/370)
The record is made up of 1 file (185 folios). It was created in 19 Nov 1928-2 Nov 1944. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.
This transcription is created automatically. It may contain errors.
THE WESTERN OR WAILING WALL IN JERUSALEM.
(Memoeandum by the Secretary of State for the Colonies.)
The incidents which have given rise to the Jewish complaints and to ques
tions in Parliament are described in the following communique, which was issued
by the Palestine Government on the 26th of September last :—
On the evening of the 23rd September, the eve of the Day of Atonement,
a complaint was made to the Deputy District Commissioner, Jerusalem, by the
Mutawali of the Abu Madian Waqf, in which the pavement and the whole area
around the Western or W T ailing Wall is vested, to the effect that a dividing
screen had been fixed to the pavement adjoining the Wall, and that other innova
tions had been made in the established practice, such as the introduction of
additional petrol lamps, a number of mats, and a .tabernacle or ark much larger
than was customary. The Deputy District Commissioner visited the W^all
during the evening service, and, acting in accordance with the practice estab
lished by Government, decided that the screen would have to be removed before
the service on the following day. He gave instructions accordingly to the
beadle in charge of the arrangements for the conduct of the services at the Wall,
reserving his decision in the matter of the lamps, the mats, and the ark. The
beadle undertook to remove the screen and the Deputy District Commissioner
gave him until early the following morning to do so. The Deputy District Com
missioner accepted the beadle's assurance that his instructions would be carried
out, at the same time informing the British Police Officer on duty that in the
event of the beadle not complying with his undertaking the screen was to be
On the following morning the Police Officer visited the Wall and, finding
that the screen had not been removed, asked members of the congregation pre
sent to take it away ; they replied that they were unable to move it because of
the holiness of the day. The Police therefore removed the screen themselves.
The worshippers in general, unaware of the circumstances that had gone before
and seeing only the Police in the act of removing the screen which had been used
to separate the men and the women, became excited and some of them en
deavoured by force to prevent the screen being taken away. Ultimately the
screen was removed.
The importation of the screen and its attachment to the pavement consti
tuted an infraction of the status quo, which the Government were unable to per
mit. At the same time the Government deeply deplore the shock that was
caused to large numbers of religious people on a day so holy to Jews. Gov
ernment understand that the beadle responsible for the innovation which caused
the incident has been dealt with by the Jewish authorities, and on their side
have impressed on the Jewish authorities the need, manifested in connection with
the incidents at the W T all in 1922 and 1925 and again on this occasion, for prior
consultation with the proper officers of Government as to the arrangements for
the services at the Wall on the principal Jewish holidays.
No Jewish Police Officer was present at the Wall on the occasion in question
owing to all Jewish Officers in Jerusalem having been excused duty for the Day
of Atonement. Government will, however, consider the desirability of a res-
ponsible Jewish Officer being included in future among the officers detailed for
duty at the Wall on solemn Jewish holy days.
In conclusion. Government consider that the removal of the screen was
necessary, but regret all the circumstances attending that removal."
It will be seen that the intervention of the police was caused by an act of
the Jewish authorities, which was regarded bv the Palestine Government as
constituting an infraction of the status quo. Before proceeding to an explana
tion of the status quo as it appears to the Palestine Government and His
Majesty's Government, it is necessary to state briefly the position as it existed
before the British Administration was set up in Palestine.
I^he Western or Wailing Wall formed part of the western exterior of the
ancient Jewish Temple ; as such it is holy to the Jewish community, and their
About this item
The file contains Government of India circular letters, memoranda and notices issued mainly by the Foreign and Political Department. These were sent to the Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. , Bushire who forwarded them to the Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. , Bahrain and others. The circulars contain instructions, information and guidance on a wide range of topics. Most circulars are about the staffing and financing of departments and offices of the Government of India. Topics addressed include the following:
- The grant of an exemption to British consular and political officers stationed in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. , from payment of rent for their accommodation, 1929;
- Revised regulations regarding the wearing of foreign orders, decorations and medals by both Government of India officers and British subjects, 1930;
- An instruction to review local expenditure and actively reduce costs as part of a drive for retrenchment of expenditure by all departments and offices of the Government of India, 1930;
- Notice of a new declaration to be made to Persian Customs by foreign travellers and pilgrims entering Persia, about the amount of foreign money in their possession, under a new Persian Foreign Exchange Law, 1931.
There are also several circulars in the file that communicate official British foreign policy in other parts of the world during periods of disturbance, so that British officials elsewhere would be able to counteract any inaccurate reports in circulation. Included are circulars about British occupied Palestine in 1928-1929, as follows:
- Printed circular memoranda from the Colonial Office, London, 1928, entitled ‘The Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem’, ‘Disturbances in Palestine’ and ‘Arming of Jews’;
- Circular telegram from the British High Commissioner, Jerusalem, 1929, about the reaction of the Arab population in Jerusalem to his instructions temporarily regulating religious observance at the wailing or western wall , pending a British Government enquiry into the existing rights of Muslims and Jews.
- Extent and format
- 1 file (185 folios)
File papers are arranged chronologically. They are followed by file notes (folios 184-188), which include a chronological list of documents in the file dated 1938 onwards (folios 109-182), together with their unique document reference numbers to help identify them. The list also records the folio number and a simple reference number from 37 to 65 that has been written on many documents, usually the circulation slips, in red or blue crayon and encircled, to help locate them in the file.
- Physical characteristics
Foliation is written in pencil in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. of each folio. It begins on the second folio, on number 1, and ends on the inside of the back cover, on number 189. Some of the parts of the file have been paginated, which means that there are a number of folio numbers missing from the sequence. Foliation omissions: f 7, f 11, f 13, f 15, ff 76-77, ff 166-169. Foliation errors: f 3 is followed by f 3A, f 123 is followed by ff 123A-C. Folio 94 is folded.
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