The charge that Vincent Sheean, correspondent of the North American Newspaper Alliance, had become anti-Zionist in his views upon his arrival in Palestine because of the fact that his request for $1,500 from the Zionist Organization of America had not been granted was made to the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” by Meyer W. Weisgal, editor of the “New Palestine,” official organ of the Zionist Organization of America, whose name was brought into the proceedings of the Commission of Inquiry in Jerusalem, when a letter from Sheean to Weisgal was read to the court.
Sheean had testified that he had come to Palestine friendly to Zionism but that what he had seen there had made him change his mind.
In connection with Sheean’s cables from Palestine during the riots to the New York “World” an inquiry from the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” to the North American Newspaper Alliance, whose correspondent he was, concerning his statement that he discontinued his cables because he did not want American papers injured by printing anti-Jewish news, David Smiley, general manager of the Alliance, made the following statement:
“Referring to your inquiry over the phone today concerning the testimony of Vincent Sheean before the Palestine Inquiry Commission, I wish to make it clear that at no time did we receive any adverse criticisms of Mr. Sheean’s articles or any suggestion of their modification from any newspaper member of the Alliance. Mr. Sheean reported after the first few days that he was ill and could not send news despatches, but after about a week he recovered and resumed his cables, which were published here and elsewhere by our members until the acute situation was over.”
In the statement made by Mr. Weisgal he declared that Sheean had received $500 from the “New Palestine” for four articles he was to write but that $1,500 which Mr. Sheean had asked for was refused by the Zionist committee to which it was referred.
In explaining Mr. Sheean’s anti-Zionist attitude, Mr. Weisgal said:
“Early in April Mr. Sheean came to our office, recommended as a journalist of great distinction and as a representative of the North American Newspaper Alliance. He stated that he was going to Palestine and asked the Zionist Organization of America to assist him for this purpose, suggesting that $2,000 would cover his needs. As editor of “The New Palestine” I agreed to advance Mr. Sheean $500 for which he would write four articles for us. The question of the other $1,500 which was to be an advance for lectures he would deliver on his return to the United States, was left to the decision of the Administrative Committee of the Zionist Organization of America. The Administrative Committee, however, declined to make this appropriation.
“On May 10th, 1929, “The New Palestine” gave to Mr. Sheean a check for $500 on account of his articles. This check was cashed by Mr. Sheean through the Cunard Steamship Company on May 13th. Mr. Sheean then sailed, and in a letter to me, dated May 17th on the R. M. S. “Carmania,” said: “Thanks for all your efforts in my behalf, and remember that you have assured me the other fifteen hundred dollars I need will be forthcoming later in the summer. I shall need it.’
“Mr. Sheean took the matter as having been settled. In fact, he told a New York doctor who was treating him that he had a contract with the Zionist Organization of America for going to Palestine and that payment would be made to him on account of that contract. The doctor phoned me and asked for money, explaining what Mr. Sheean had told him before he left America. I assured the doctor that we knew of no such arrangement as provided for the payment of the doctor out of the funds that might accrue to Mr. Sheean.
“In the middle of July we had various appeals from Mr. Sheean for the balance of the money. At that time I happened to be in Zurich, Switzerland. In the intervening period the question of giving $1,5000 had been taken up by the Administrative Committee again and the request refused. So that the $1,500 was never sent to Mr. Sheean.
“In the latter part of August, when the riots in Jerusalem began, Mr. Sheean sent cables to the New York “World” which gave a grossly unfair report of what had taken place. Its unfairness was all the more patent because it disagreed completely with the views taken by the correspondents for the other New York papers.
“The inevitable conclusion of those who were in the office of the Zionist Organization at the time was that Mr. Sheean who, before his departure from America, had professed such profound interest in Zionism, had changed his mind because the funds for which he had asked had not been completely supplied to him. The facts of the matter were presented to the Editor of the New York “World” and subsequently Mr. Sheean’s dispatches did not appear in that paper.
“I cannot but feel that Mr. Sheean’s assumption of anti-Zionism can only be interpreted as a result of his failure to secure the $1,500 for which he had asked. I should like to add that ‘The New Palestine’ has never received a single article from Mr. Sheean, although he was paid $500 for such articles, and which he promised to send during the summer.”