Mr. Terrell to Mr. Gresham.
Legation of the United States, October 16, 1894. (Received November 5.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the Porte admits that instructions have long ago been given to Turkish consuls in America not to visa the passports of Jews who visit Jerusalem for a longer stay than ninety days. This has led to the seizure and detention of the baggage of that sect at Jaffa, to secure their return within the time allowed, as will be seen from the inclosed dispatch from Consul Wallace at Jerusalem of the 3d instant to the consul-general at Constantinople. Mr. Wallace also, as you will see, reports cases of extortion by Turkish officers, presumably, from the facts given, with the knowledge of the local governor.
My instructions to the consul-general look to a correction of this evil.
I have remonstrated with the foreign minister on the seizure and detention of baggage, and notified him of my belief that his officials were levying blackmail at Jaffa.
The reason given for the avowed policy of preventing the settlement of Jews in Jerusalem in large numbers was stated with much seriousness by His Excellency Said Pasha as follows:
We believe that Jesus Christ was a great prophet, and if the Jews get control of Jerusalem they will steal the sepulcher of Christ and destroy everything that can remind people of him.
This feature of the interview was unexpected. I informed the Porte that the restriction on the right of American Jews to remain so short a period was a hardship about which I might have occasion to express myself hereafter. I did not go further because it may be safely assumed that, in the absence of all commerce there, a Jew who goes to stay over ninety days goes to remain, and besides, I can obtain your instructions by the time I can receive further details of extortion by the Turks at Jaffa.
I have, etc.,