London (Jul. 4)
(By our London correspondent)
Nearly eight hundred persons, representing all sections of the Anglo – Jewish community, were present at a dinner held here last night in support of the Balfour Forest, which is being planted in Palestine as a tribute from Anglo-Jewry to the author of the Balfour Declaration. In view of the public importance of the plan, the Corporation of the City of London lent the Guildhall for the purpose, the first occasion in the history of the City of London in which the Guildhall has been placed at the disposal of the Anglo-Jewish Community.
An appeal for Â£75,000 has been launched. to plant a quarter of a million Jerusalem pines. An appeal is made for Â£15,000 to plant the first 50,000 trees. The collection at the banquet realized Â£15,590. Mr. Bernhard Baron sent a cheque for Â£5,000, which will purchase 15,000 pines, and Lord Melchett gave a cheque for 1,000 guineas. The banquet was held under the auspices of the Balfour Forest Committee, the Chairman of which, Major H. L. Nathan. presided.
Lord Balfour, who was unable to be present because of his recent illness, sent the following message:
“I am profoundly touched by the action of the Anglo-Jewish community in bringing into existence a living and enduring symbol of their participation in the regeneration and development of Palestine. I like to think of the Balfour Forest not merely as evidence of goodwill to myself personally, but as a token of the loyal co-operation between Anglo-Jewry and the British people in the fulfilment of a great enterprise.”
Mr. Lloyd-George wrote: “I can think of few projects which are likely to be of greater and more enduring benefit to Palestine as a whole than this nobly conceived tribute to the statesman who, as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Government of which I was head, promulgated on behalf of the British Government the Declaration which has enabled such remarkable results to be achieved by the Jews in the up-building of the country, and, I am glad to add, in the uplifting of its population. I am sure that Anglo-Jewry can be relied upon to see that this project will be as magnificent in execution as in conception.”
Sir Herbert Samuel stated in his message: “It is an admirable proposal to commenorate Lord Balfour’s great services to Palestine by the planting of a forest. His statesmanship has made possible the planting of a people. A forest is a good symbol.”
Messages were also read from Lord Plumer accepting the position of Patron and from Mr. Bernhard Baron.
Lord Melchett proposed the toast of His Majesty’s Government. British Jewry, Lord Melchett said was gathered there for the first time in the historic Guildhall not merely as citizens of a great Empire, but also to pay tribute to Lord Balfour. It was due to the British Government that it had been possible for them to meet in support of the Balfour Forest, and it was to the British Government as the Mandatory Power that they had to look for the carrying out of the Treaty, and on whom they relied to make a success of the task of up-building Palestine. Never before in the history of the world had a people tried to rebuild a land so devasted; never before had so great a voluntary effort been made; never before had so great a power of idealism and faith been shown. As one of those privileged to plant the first trees in the Balfour Forest he could tell them that where there were once malarial swamps there now stood smiling homesteads. The Balfour Forest was of vital importance, for when complete it would reclothe the barren hills overlooking Nazareth and recreate the fertility of the land lost by centuries of neglect. He would ask Lord Birkenhead to convey to his distinguished colleague, Lord Balfour, their regret that he had been unable to be present. It was their earnest hope that he would soon be restored to health. Zionists would undertake the responsibility of completing the forest in a way commensurate with the eminence of Lord Balfour’s name.
The Earl of Birkenhead said that Lord Balfour was by far the most eminent figure that survived a glorious past. He was still among them, enriching their counsels by his bright sagacity. He had attended a Cabinet meeting only a week ago after his long illness. It was surprising to remember that he attended the Congress of Berlin with Disraeli and the late Lord Salisbury. In an age which had witnessed the uprooting and destruction of ancient dynasties, and the overthrow of systems of government, there was still among them this great statesman with a dialectical resource which had never been surpassed in the history of English politics. Throughout his life he had retained an ascendency over his colleagues, and, at this moment, in the evening of his distinguished life, he remained an influential member of the Government.
The idea of rebuilding Palestine was a great conception, proceeded
Lord Birkenhead, but a conception, if he might be allowed to say so, not certain of success. The experiment was as difficult as it was novel, but he shared their views as to its success. Many racial problems still existed, which required the greatest statecraft for their complete solution. They must never forget that the population of Palestine was not homogeneous, and that there were others who founded their claims to generous recognition and fair treatment upon long history. It would be a measure of their statecraft to show to what extent they were able to appreciate those claims.
Paving an eloquent tribute to the qualities of the Jewish people, Lord Birkenhead spoke of the traditional history of the Jews which was taught in every school in every civilized country of the world. The names of those who had become famous in the Old Testament were known whereever the English language was spoken, and wherever the Jewish or Christian religion was reverenced. But the particular characteristic of the Jews had never been rivalled in one singular and enviable respect. Their polity was destroyed, their community was scattered and representatives of that unhappy people find themselves wanderers in every country of Europe. They were for centuries a people banned and outcast, but it was their marvellous tenacity and endurance which enabled them to cohere and never despair of the future of their race. In that proud quality he discerned the secret of Jewish immortality, No people had been more discouraged in many countries or more tortured or submitted to so many social and economic disabilities, all of which, however, they had survived because of the possession of their unconquerable qualities.
Lord Birkenhead traced the history of the removal of disabilities upon Jews in England during the nineteenth century, referring to the career of Benjamin Disraeli as one of the outstanding results. Today, in Great Britain, he said, instancing the cases of Lord Reading, who had been Lord Chief Justice and Viceroy, and Lord Melchett, one of the greatest industrial figures in the country, there was no social or political industrial figures in the country, there was no social or political bar opposing the legitimate ambitions of the Jewish section of the population.
Mrs. Philip Snowden appealed to the Jewish community and Zionists to honor a great man, whom they should delight to honor by subscribing towards the Â£75,000 needed to plant the Balfour Forest. She was an enthusiastic Zionist. Mrs. Snowden said and she would miss faith in Zionism and all its implicatons.
The Marquis of Reading, who was received with tremendous enthusiasm, delivered a vibrant and eloquent speech which was the outstanding feature of the evening. He recalled the part the City of London had played in order that the Jewish people should receive the complete citizenship of this country. It was almost a hundred years since in 1835 Sir Moses Montefiore had again and again been proposed as a Sheriff for the City of London, and it was eighty years since no opportunity of publicly testifying her Baron Lionel de Rothschild was elected by the City of London to be their representative in Parliament. It was appropriate that they should assemble in the Guildhall to do honor to that great statesman, Lord Balfour, for what he had done in their interests. The Baliour Declaration was a message of hope and an inspiration to Jewish people all over the world, a burst of glorious sunshine to a cloud that had almost overwhelmed them. For by that Declaration, Palestine became a reality. The trees of the Balfour Forest would be a permanent memorial of their gratitude to Lord Balfour, to the British Government and to the British people. Lord Balfour symbolized to them that wonderful spirit of fair-mindedness, that sense of justice, and that desire to do right which was so characteristic of Britain.
Mr. James de Rothschild said that to Zionists, the City of London with its great history of merchant adventurers and merchant companies, made an irresistible appeal. He referred to the manner in which the City constantly intervened on behalf of the great cause of liberty and justice.
The Chief Rabbi. Dr. J. H. Hertz, said there was a strong affinity between the Hebrew and the English character. There was no nation on earth today that was more permeated with the Biblical spirit than the British nation, and no nation had more absorbed the Jewish principle that the moral life was of fundamental importance in human existence, and that conduct was three-fourths of life.
The Lord Mayor alluded to the great Jews who had held the office of Lord Mayor, such men as Sir David Salamans, Sir Benjamin Phillips, Sir Henry Isaacs. Sir Faudel Philips, and Lord Bearsted, men whose names were still borne in kindly remembrance in the City of London.
Mr. Henry Mond, and Major H. L. Nathan, the Chairman, also spoke.