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dens, where it is impossible to have suitable ventilation, to say nothing of proper means for cleanliness. This crowding is most marked in the Jewish quarter, where it is not uncommon to find four to a dozen persons in one small room, with their cooking utensils and bedding piled in the corners or scattered upon the floor. It is characteristic of the Jews, in Jerusalem at least, that they do not care to have this wretched style of life changed.
The number of Jewish immigrants during the past year, as officially reported, was 4,000. The actual number that arrived in Palestine is probably considerably larger, as very many land at Beirut or some other Syrian port and make their way hither overland. These are not reported to the Government. These immigrants settle, as usual, chiefly at Jerusalem, while some of them remain at Jaffa and others go to Gaza or Hebron. Certain societies are making efforts to colonize, especially the Russian immigrants, or "refugees" as they are called, and a large tract of land situated between here and Jaffa is about being purchased, on which the managers of the proposed colony are soon to commence operations. What is sought to be done will, however, be very difficult. of accomplishment, since the Government is opposed to the influx of Jews, and to Jewish colonies in particular.
SCARCITY OF MONEY AND RUINOUS INTEREST.
With short crops, increased cost of living, and high rents, the rate of interest on loans is also high, with very poor security. Good security is very difficult to obtain. Money is scarce, and there is no public confidence in the stability of affairs in general. There have been some failures during the past year, so that natives, the Moslems especially, who have any money prefer to hide it in their houses to loaning it to bankers or elsewhere on any terms. Good security means 6 per cent. annual interest. Very few wish to loan money at that rate, the most preferring to hoard it if they cannot get 10 or 12 per cent. For short loans 2 per cent. a month is demanded, and not unfrequently, when the time is for a few days only, the loaner exacts 0.25 per cent. a day, at which rate $1 American money will draw 90 cents a year.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR INVESTMENT.
When I say that there are no good opportunities for investing capi tal it is only another way of saying that no one should come here with the design of establishing a business of any kind. It is not the poverty of the country or its limited resources that lead me to make this statement, for the natural wealth of Syria and Palestine is great, and the careful observer sees on every hand ways in which capital might be most profitably invested; but, governed as it is, there is absolutely no encouragement to those who would institute reforms, undertake internal improvements, or organize measures for the development of the natural resources of the country. There are extensive deposits of coal, iron, copper, sulphur, bitumen, and salt, and probably of petroleum also, which, if properly worked, would yield the most gratifying results; but the Government does not wish foreign capitalists to enter the country for this purpose, nor does it wish to sell its land to aliens. No commercial or business enterprise of any kind is favored by the Government; consequently individual effort is useless, no matter how great the skill which may direct it or the capital which it can command in its support.
While one cannot invest money in land, mining, or manufactures of any kind, something might still be done in a small way in private mercantile business. One ought not to think, however, of establishing stores here for the purpose of supplying the Europeans of the country with European goods. A fair amount of trade is already done in this way, and the only chance for success would be by underselling and crowding out somebody who now occupies the ground. Instead of this, efforts should be made to secure the traffic of the fellaheen or peasants of the country and of the wild Bedouin of the desert. This traffic is large, and there is no special reason why a share of it at least should not be in the hands of Americans.
MIDDLE-MEN AND MONEY-LENDERS.
These people do now what, in a certain sense, may be called a business," but it is done in such a way as to make them poorer every year. The peasants receive cash for their produce and pay cash for what they purchase. If this statement covered the whole business there could be no objection to it. But the fellaheen are deeply in debt, and they have to borrow money at a ruinous rate of interest in order to pay cash for what they buy. They must have animals, utensils, seed, and clothing, and in order to obtain these they go to the moneylender, borrow money, paying at least 12 per cent., and secure him on their stock, and especially upon their incoming or prospective crops. With the money thus obtained they buy what they need until their crops are ready for the market. If the crop, whatever it may be, is short, they cannot meet their liabilities, and the money-lender then acts the part of a merciless tyrant.
Another way in which the fellaheen suffer is by not receiving a fair price for the produce which they bring to market. For instance, a man comes to market with a camel load of charcoal. Outside the gates a "middle-man" accosts, or rather pounces upon, him, seizes his camel, at first dickers with him, but very soon begins to browbeat the poor fellow until he takes for his load whatever the middle-man chooses to give him. He pays the peasant, we will say, $1.50 for the load, and a few minutes later, within the city walls, he has sold the same load for $2.50. There are no laws against this kind of robbery, and public sentiment allows it.
The money-lenders and the middle-men ought to be dispensed with in some way, and the peasant and Bedouin ought to deal directly with the men who can furnish them with whatever goods or supplies they need. By a system of barter-trade they would receive a fair price for their produce, and pay no more for their supplies, perhaps not so much, as they do at present.
UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Jerusalem, October 18, 1883.
Statement showing the imports at Jaffa for the year ending September 30, 1883.
Statement showing the exports from Jaffa for the year ending September 30, 1883.
Statement showing the navigation at the port of Jaffa, Syria, for the year ending September
30, 1883. ENTERED.
Statement showing the imports at Aden, Arabia, for the year ending March 31, 1882.